Female genital mutilation banned in Indonesia

Outrageously inhuman operations of female circumcision have been officially banned in Indonesia, a Health Ministry spokesman said.

The prohibition against the practice - also known as female genital mutilation or cutting - came in the form of a notice sent to doctors and nurses in April, said Soemardi, who goes by a single name. There is no punishment for those who ignore it, he said.

"The circular bars all medical workers from performing female circumcision either by slicing, cutting, or damaging the genital organs or . . . surroundings," Soemardi said.

The government did not formally announce its directive when it sent the notices to medical staff in April.

A very mild form of female circumcision, typically a pin prick to the clitoris, is often performed on baby girls in Indonesia. The practice is considered compulsory by some Islamic preachers, the AP reports.

Often, a symbolic cleansing of the clitoris is performed in its place.

The World Health Organization estimates that about two million girls are at risk of undergoing the practice, the WHO says.

Most of them live in 28 African countries, although some live in Asia and the Middle East. But girls and women in Europe, Australia, Canada and the United States, primarily among immigrants from these regions, are also at risk, the WHO said.